Israeli trucks and bulldozers continued Thursday with construction of a West Bank road on an area where Israeli officials say they will build thousands of new housing units.
The project, intended to link the settlement of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem some 6.5 kilometers away, defies an internationally supported peace plan demanding a halt in Israeli settlement activity.
Israel's public radio reported that detailed planning work, including the tendering process, for the new neighbourhood between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem is expected to be completed in the next six months after which construction on the 1,500 hectare development may begin.
The United States publicly condemned a smaller plan to expand Maaleh Adumim earlier this week, but Israeli officials said they will seek U.S. approval for this and other similar expansion projects, The AP reported.
U.S. Mideast envoy Elliot Abrams was to discuss the Maaleh Adumim plans during a meeting in Jerusalem later Thursday with Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei discussed the Maaleh Adumim issue at a meeting Thursday with Abrams. The construction plan amounts to a "land grab" meant to deny the Palestinians a state, Erekat conveyed. (albawaba.com)
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